Missouri's forwards key in win over Oklahoma State

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 | 11:20 p.m. CST; updated 12:22 a.m. CST, Thursday, February 16, 2012
Missouri's Ricardo Ratliffe swats away a shot by Oklahoma State's Brian Williams during Wednesday's victory over the Cowboys. Ratliffe had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

COLUMBIA — After the Missouri guards made 14 3-pointers to beat Baylor on Saturday, the Missouri forwards  stepped in for an 83-65 win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday.

The teams' only scholarship forwards are seniors Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore. The two big men, each with a very different demeanor, have both been a big part of Missouri's success this season.

Ratliffe is almost always calm and collected — even during a disappointing 3-for-9 shooting performance against Baylor. He goes about his business, hustling back down the court after every basket. His hustle sometimes leads to quick scores off passes from Phil Pressey or Michael Dixon.

He had a rare show of emotion after making a basket while getting knocked to the ground late in the game against Oklahoma State. Sitting on the ground, he pumped both fists as he saw the shot go in, then walked purposefully to take his free throws.

He scored 15 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.

Moore, who comes off the bench, is what Missouri coach Frank Haith calls an "energy guy." Playing fewer minutes than most of his teammates, Moore doesn't have to pace himself when he's on the court. He dives for loose balls and boxes out his man knowing full well  he could come out of the game at the next timeout.

Unlike Ratliffe, Moore's intensity is easily noticed. 

In the first half, after a layup that he scored despite being fouled, Moore walked slowly to the free-throw line and stared at the Missouri student section. He's been known to pound his chest after big plays, and he was the only player who climbed into the student section to celebrate Missouri's win over Kansas earlier this month.

He scored seven points on Wednesday, the most he's scored in a game since his 10 against Iowa State on Jan. 11 .

Five Missouri players scored in double figures Wednesday. Marcus Denmon led the team with 17 points. Michael Dixon and Ratliffe had 15 and Phil Pressey and Kim English had 13.

"It's fun when you just really don't care who gets that basket," English said. "When it's just your college buddies and you're just out there playing basketball, it's fun. I'm sure it's fun to watch, but it's really fun to play."

The team effort carried over on defense as well.

"I was disappointed we didn't get the ball inside enough," Cowboys' coach Travis Ford said. "A lot of it had to do with Missouri's defense. The pressure on the perimeter was some of the best we've seen."

Haith was thrilled with the team's play on defense and rebounding, saying that if they can continue to do that the way they did against Oklahoma State, the team can "do some special things."

While the guards got a lot of credit for the defense against Oklahoma State, Moore and Ratliffe will be needed when Missouri faces Texas A&M at 1 p.m. Saturday in College Station, Texas.

"We're gonna have to be ready to defend the paint against those guys," Haith said.

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Betty Aderton February 16, 2012 | 4:37 p.m.

To use one of the younger persons saying.
"Awesome Baby Awesome"

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